“Go on, take it. You clearly like it, and I have plenty.”
It was true. Micah did like it. He liked it a lot. But that didn’t mean he wanted it. He was happy to have seen it, at this moment in time, and to own it as a memory. Memories age better than stuff. Like ex’s, the fantasy is more pleasant than the day-to-day reality of living together.
“It’s fine. I’m fine, really.”
“Oh, come on! Don’t be so difficult.”
Micah took a bite of his sandwich. Since it was awkward to maintain eye contact while chewing, he looked around the coffee shop. There were a few other couples, or friends, perhaps work buddies, paired up at small tables barely big enough to hold their plates. That was one way to make portions look bigger. Adrian, Joy’s boyfriend, considered it a scam. But Micah liked the perspective personally. There was a spiritual lesson in there somewhere.
When Micah’s eyes wandered back to Joy, she had taken a bite of her own. Taking advantage of the moment, he took another bite and averted his eyes again.
“Okay, I’ll hold onto it for you,” she said. “Come by our house when you’re ready to take it home.”
People come in many different forms. Some mostly take. Others like to give. Joy had no problems taking, but she liked to pass along much of what she took. It was her form of kindness.
That was actually how she and Micah had met. He was moving into his first place after college, or rather he was subletting after college, and he needed something to sleep on (though now he would say that he had wanted something to sleep on, and the floor could have served just fine). Adrian’s new girlfriend had a mattress that she guaranteed had never seen a bed bug. And, since Micah had asked, Adrian had never been anywhere near it.
The price couldn’t be beat either. Joy wouldn’t accept a penny, which nearly put Micah off. He was sure she was either lying or there was something else wrong with the mattress for her to just give it away, but no, this was just the way Joy was. He would grow to love her for it.
But now that love would, on occasion, turn over into exasperation. He didn’t want her stuff. He didn’t even want most of his stuff anymore. He read a book about only keeping possessions that spark joy and found that nothing, absolutely nothing he owned sparked joy.
Ironically, Joy was the one who had given him the book (it didn’t spark joy for her).
Some people read the book and weren’t about it. They liked their stuff. They didn’t want to get rid of their stuff. They missed any stuff that they did get rid of. But Micah was on the opposite extreme. He found that nothing he owned brought him happiness, nor was there anything he could think to buy that would.
“Adrian’s folks are still over,” Joy said. “Let’s go chill at your place for a bit. It’s been forever.”
It had been forever.
Micah really didn’t want to say yes, but he did.
“Oh my god!” Joy said as soon as she set foot in the apartment. “Are you moving out? There’s nothing here.”
That wasn’t true. There was a coffee table, a floor rug, and a love seat. Just nothing else. This was simultaneously much more and much less than what many other bachelors had.
“I just cleaned up a bit,” Micah said.
“You got rid of everything! What do you even do here?”
“My laptop’s right there.” It was on the coffee table.
“Right,” she said. “So, same as before, I guess.”
“Except I feel much better now when I close the laptop and there’s no mess.”
“That’s for sure. There’s nothing to clean up.”
“Hey, I dusted that table this morning.”
“You have a duster?”
“Well, no, but it was dusty, and I wiped it.”
“I did this, didn’t I?”
“I distinctly remember moving everything myself.”
Joy laughed softly, shook her head, and turned away.
“I gave you that book.”
“I should probably thank you.”
Joy turned back around. “I didn’t expect you to even read it, let alone take it seriously.”
“I guess, I don’t know, you want to sit down?”
They did. Joy and Micah had spent countless hours in this room together, but with everything gone, this time felt different.
“You don’t even have anything on the walls,” Joy said, clearly stuck on this.
“I don’t actually try to spend all that much time here,” Micah said. “One thing I realized was that nothing in here actually made me happy. Even the space itself.”
“So your home makes you depressed?”
“No, I just rather be out doing what does make me happy.”
“And what’s that?”
Micah didn’t have a quick answer.
“I guess we have been hanging out more lately,” Joy said. “That’s been nice.”
Joy glanced at Micah. Micah glanced back. When their eyes met and lingered, something clicked, not only for Joy, but for Micah, for the first time.
“I should go,” Joy said.
“Joy, no,” Micah said, reaching over and lightly putting his hand on her arm. Entirely the wrong move, considering. But Joy didn’t move. She looked at his hand, then back into his eyes.
“I like being friends,” he said. “I love being friends.”
“Do you?” she asked. “Do you really?”
“Yes! You’re awesome. And Adrian’s been my boy for forever. I wouldn’t do that to him.”
“We’ve been friends for so long that Adrian doesn’t even bat an eye when I say I’m with you. He trusts us.”
Joy looked down at Micah’s hand. He let go, then awkwardly placed his hand in his lap.
“I’ll stay,” Joy said.
Micah smiled, not a big smile, but too big a smile for someone who loved being friends.
Joy leaned over, slowly, and when Micah turned to see what she was doing, she kissed his lips.
“You make me happy, too.”